Kabuki as It Was Meant to be Seen

Experience this colorful, dynamic, and timeless art at its home theatre in Tokyo

Kabuki, one of Japan’s most celebrated traditional performing arts and a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, dates back more than 400 years. It is said to be based on a dance performed by Izumo no Okuni on the banks of the Kamo River in Kyoto. From these enigmatic origins, a stylized art emerged, one that came to involve elaborate makeup, sumptuous costumes, and stories that dazzled and delighted the commoners of the Edo Period.

Kabuki has experienced a resurgence in popularity in modern times, and different plays are put on monthly at Ginza’s renovated Kabukiza (Kabuki Theatre). A visit to the theatre–whether for a single act or an entire performance–leaves a vivid impression on any attendee. The complicated maneuverings of the set design and stage and the colorful backdrops always wow visitors, but audience members are often most impressed by the kakegoe, a distinctive vocal call. Some spectators call out to the various actors, creating a feeling of intimacy between the performers and the viewers.

While all kabuki plays are performed in Japanese, English speakers can rent special handheld guides that translate the play’s dialogue so you can follow along.

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